From the Sun to the Moon and Back

It was a day of stark contrasts.

We woke up in Sun Valley, Idaho on day two of our trip, and it kind of felt like we had been abducted by aliens. We had arrived in the dark, and the power went out before we even had a chance to see where we were staying, so it was all new to us. Fortunately, it was spectacular. Thanks, aliens!

My first sight was big black and white birds stealing bright red berries from the lush green tree outside our window. It looked like a kinetic postcard. I could have watched them all day. But we had plans.

We were going to Craters of the Moon National Monument, which is about an hour away. But first, we got to actually see Sun Valley. The place is just beautiful, especially with fall colors. And it was a stark contrast to Craters of the Moon.

This was the first of many National Park Services places we were to visit on this trip, and in most cases, the visitors centers were closed and I was unable to get a stamp on my National Parks Passport. This was heartbreaking to me. I do love to get those stamps, and I love, even more, to explore a NPS visitor center. I always learn a lot. This center was open just enough for a stamp and enough so that we learned that the astronauts came here to study geology before going to the moon. There were lots of pictures of them examining rocks and looking heroic.

After that, we explored. And what we saw was acres upon acres of lava in many amazing forms. This place wasn’t the result of a volcano per se, but of a great rift which allowed lava to flow to the surface in the form of spatter cones, flows, caves, cinder beds, tree molds, lava tubes, and a gigantic cinder cone which my husband climbed while I watched from the comfort of the car.

Usually I’m down for such antics, but on this day, the park was experiencing 45 mile per hour wind gusts (as you can see in the hilarious picture of me below). I actually saw an 8-year-old go airborne. The only thing that averted disaster was that her mom was able to grab her by the hoodie and yank her back to earth. So no, I’m not climbing something called the Inferno Cone when the wind is howling so loudly that no one could hear you scream.

When my husband came back, looking all sun blasted, we did decide to climb a spatter cone to look down inside. I figured there’d be more shelter from the wind there. But as I left, I realized that dear husband was not behind me. He emerged a minute later, looking sheepish, because his hat blew off into the cone, way beyond anyone’s reach. I bet that happens a lot. I bet the park rangers have quite a hat collection at this point.

We didn’t get to go into any of the caves, because they were all closed. They had been experiencing a lot of earthquake activity in the past few days. We felt nothing, but were grateful not to get buried in a mountain of sharp-edged lava rock.

We did walk in Devil’s Orchard, and got to see a lot of interesting formations, along with a whole lot of very twisted trees. All these parks limit their lighting as much as possible, and they say, “Half the Park is After Dark.” I wished I could have stayed in Devil’s Orchard overnight, because I bet the night sky is spectacular there. (I also bet it’s freakin’ cold.) We left feeling like we had, in fact, been to the moon, and it was a blast!

We headed back to Sun Valley, and stopped at a thrift store where I got several children’s books for my little free library. Then we ate at the Pioneer Saloon, where the rib meat practically falls off the bone, and then went back to the time share where, thank heavens, the lights were actually functioning, and we slept the sleep of intrepid explorers.

Here are some pictures from our day. If you see an absence of lava, it’s probably Sun Valley. Enjoy!

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure!

I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that?


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

3 thoughts on “From the Sun to the Moon and Back”

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